Follow
Share

My mother died in May, so this is not about me anymore. My dear friend's mother was diagnosed about 7 weeks ago with pancreatic cancer (she's 82). She has hospice care and has been asleep/not eating/not drinking for a week. They are giving her morphine and Ativan because without it, she is in terrible pain.


My friend is truly alone - no spouse, no kids, no siblings, no relatives nearby. She lives with her mother in a one-bedroom apt and it is a very dysfunctional situation. They are extremely enmeshed, to say the least.


I'm going out there (from NY to LA) this weekend to be supportive, which I want to be. BUT she wants me to stay there because she is so scared, especially at night, even though there's usually an aide or a nurse there. So I will be sleeping on the couch in the living room. Her mom is dying in the bedroom, my friend is also in the bedroom, and who knows where the aide is. I feel bad, because my friend is the one in hell right now, but I am dreading spending 3 nights on the couch in this extremely upsetting situation. I can't bring myself to tell her I want to stay in a nearby hotel. I'm actually scared to be so close to imminent death of someone I know, plus my friend's intense grief. Plus, I'm 55 and I need sleep.

What a good friend you are, Xina! Glad the mom is at peace.
(0)
Report

Xinabess, there never was a truer friend. Bless you. Well done.
(0)
Report

So glad you were able to support your friend and make it back in one piece!
(1)
Report

Thanks for letting us know how things went. It’s good she has local support. It will take awhile.
You are a good friend Xenabess.
(2)
Report

Hi all,

I'm back from LA. My friend's mother passed as I was getting on the plane to go out there.

It was a hard weekend, needless to say, but I'm very glad I stayed with her. That's what she needed. She is a wreck, just devastated. I don't think I've ever been near such raw pain. Fortunately, she does have friends around who are rallying, as well as a saint of a neighbor who is at her beck and call.

So that's it. I suggested she seek support on this board (or anywhere) but she just isn't the type. Maybe she'll change her mind.
(4)
Report

You are awesome!
(0)
Report

((((hugs)))))), Xina; let us know how you are. b
(1)
Report

I am staying with my friend, E, - that's been decided. She is a shattered, sobbing mess and simply can't tolerate being alone right now, so I'll do what I have to for 2 days. E does have a pool in her complex, so at least I can sit there and read for some space or take a walk. If it were going to be more than 2 days, I would definitely find other accommodations, but not in this case.

Apparently the nurse said her mom was dying last night, but then she started breathing normally again. Then the nurse said her mom was probably waiting for ME to arrive to die so that she knew E wouldn't be alone!!!!! (Mom is unconscious, fyi) UGH. Kind of a lot of pressure.

I told E that I HOPE there will be a hospice person there 24/7 (as has been the case, but they keep re-evaluating). I had to be honest. I don't know how much I can handle myself. Also, I'm not sure how I'm going to deal w E's extreme misery.

I will report from the trenches!
(2)
Report

Air BnB?
(1)
Report

Xinabess, just wanted to add to my above comment that I am definitely not criticizing you in any way. Hope I didn't sound harsh accidentally. :)
(0)
Report

Exactly what CM said, Xinabess. It is OK to set boundaries as we help others. In fact it is not only OK, it is vitally important!

If you want to, you could gently inform her that you will be staying in a hotel. To be blunt, she's not really in a position to argue about it, and you could lovingly reassure her of your intention to support her to the best of your ability. But you don't have to martyr yourself.
(1)
Report

Xinabess, that may be what she thinks she wants. It may be that once you're on the scene, you do decide to stay with her throughout. But it may also be that you find it's too much, and you NEED a few hours' break. And if that happens, you need to be able to reassure her you'll be back and leave her in the capable hands of the hospice nurse, or whatever, while you go and get your head down on a nice clean pillow in a silent, locked room before going back refreshed to help her some more.

Better you take sensible precautions and do what's possible than that you try to do exactly what your friend says, find you can't, and break down. Your oxygen mask first, remember.
(3)
Report

Thanks, Country Mouse. I wish I could be in a hotel, but I can't. My friend wants me with her because she is so terrified to be alone, so that's how it has to be. It's going to be hard and I am dreading it, but at least I get to go home after an intense 48 hours or so.
(1)
Report

Xinabess, hurrah for the internet!

Go online, type in "hotels nearest to [friend's address]", take your pick. If you're worried about what the neighbourhood might be like to walk around in, you can even use Google Maps street view to have a good look at it first. It only has to be clean and nearby, you're not looking for five star comfort or ambience.

The other lovely thing about hotels is they can help you with transport. Cabs, buses, bike hire - whatever's most practical.

Don't make hints, and don't give her extra work or extra thinking or extra catering to do on top of what she already has. Be the perfect guest in these circumstances - i.e. 100% self-sufficient.
(2)
Report

Thanks everyone. I'm scared to even ask her if there are hotels nearby - she's in an off-the-beaten-track area of LA. I know she will feel abandoned if I do that. I hinted at it a few times, and she doesn't even answer.

Even though I offered to come, and want to be there for her, I am starting to feel resentful that she doesn't realize I'm going to need some space (and I don't feel comfortable driving around LA on my own). I know she's in a world of pain right now, so I get it, but, still - ugh.
(0)
Report

Get the hotel room. Your friend may also appreciate a brief respite.

And remember that sometimes, folks who are dying want to do it alone.

Make sure your friend stays hydrated, is eating relatively healthy meals and gets some walking time in, preferably outside in the sun.

You're giving her a great gift, Xina. My SIL stayed by my side while mom was actively dying. It was a gift I can never repay.
(2)
Report

Xinabess, book the hotel anyway. You don't need to discuss this with your friend, just do it.

Then you will have a safe place to retreat to when you need to, and if you find that you are both helping her and coping yourself and you don't want to leave her alone then you don't, after all, *have* to be in your hotel room at any given point. You will be able to suit yourself.

In such a difficult situation you really do have to play it by ear, one hour at a time. Get the room. And take a good book. You will be helping merely by being present. You don't have to be hands-on with the poor dying lady.

What you're doing is pure gold friendship. Bless you, and good luck, and let us know how it's going.
(3)
Report

I had a cousin who passed a few years ago from this very same situation. It is very kind of you to help her this way. The end is no doubt near and the nature of this cancer is one that makes the end very hard more so than other cancers. She probably will not be able to keep any food down due to tumors. If you can be close for 3 days it will be immensely helpful for her. I know it will be stressful for you but if you can tell yourself that it is 3 difficult days out of your life you can get through. My cousin passed next to her daughter while her daughter had fallen asleep for a few hours. The comfort of her presence made a horrible end a bit more peaceful. You being there will help greatly and once back home you can regain your schedule knowing you made a difference at the end of that life. I hope you can find inner strength to get through this.
(1)
Report

I vote for having your own hotel room at the ready, for you to retreat to as 97yroldmom put it; for having your own space, privacy and quiet as much or as little as you need it. Your poor friend in the midst of her crisis doesn't realize how extreme her situation is -- it would be very trying even for someone not grieving a recent loss like you are.

She's lucky to have such a wonderful friend.
(2)
Report

xinabess- It must be so hard for your friend and you to be so near to a dying person. I am sure I'd be so scared. Having you there for support will help your friend tremendously.

If I were in your shoes, I'd try to calm my nerves with a drink or two but not so much that I can't drive but might help you sleep, and turn on the tv so that there are some human voices to fill the space and provide some distraction. If you are religious, perhaps watch a religious program on tv., read the bible, etc.

The waiting part is the hardest. Nerve wrecking. I feel for you.
(0)
Report

Thank you 97yroldmom. I am going to see if there's any place nearby to stay that won't require me to rent a car. I know my friend wants me with her all the time and I remember that feeling myself - just wanting someone else to be around to comfort you and witness the situation. So I'll most likely end up being in the apartment and muddling through. I'm hoping her mom will die before I arrive so we can take healing drives to the beach,
(1)
Report

This is tough. I think I would get the hotel room and have a place to retreat to when needed to shower and catch a few hours of sleep.
Just knowing you are close by will help your friend even if you aren’t with her every minute.
Be up front and tell her your own grief is still so raw that you feel you need a little breathing room. Perhaps this feeling was unexpected until now.
Also see if you can encourage her to know that even if you are back in NY that you are as close as that hotel room for her. Just down the street in spirit and connected in a supportive way.
Im sorry about your own mom’s passing. I hope you are at peace with that and can reassure your friend that she will be able to manage when her mom is gone. I’m so sorry her mom has to be sedated to control her pain now and can’t be alert for her daughter.
This is a very loving thing you are doing for your friend.
(2)
Report

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter